With all the recent Amazon doings – the official launch of Amazon Go, the ongoing saga of the second Amazon Headquarters (who will get the final rose???), and rising Amazon stock values – one topic has largely escaped notice. Whole Foods has slowly but very surely been expanding locations of its budget-friendly counterpart, 365, and is now bringing its crunchy-granola-on-a-budget offerings to the East Coast. The East Coast’s first 365 store is slated to open on January 31 in Brooklyn (where I think it will feel right at home), bringing the number of currently open stores up to seven.
The store will occupy a 30,000 square foot space at the foot of a brand new high-rise and will include a café level that boasts the first non-west-coast location of Next Level Burger (I’m a jealy donut about that part), a juice press, and a selection of pastries, breads and sandwiches from a local bakery. The store will also feature “nearly 30 artisanal cheeses” – ostensibly at budget-friendly, Kraft-cheese prices.
They are also hyping their beer offerings, over 100 craft, domestic and imported beers, and are boasting a new concept called the POURiT Authority, an area of the store where shoppers can use a reloadable card to pour themselves a glass of beer, cider or wine from a dozen rotating taps. I can get behind that concept!
365 stores have been around for almost 2.5 years but so far, with only seven locations, the expansion has been slow. However, the Whole Foods site claims there are 16 more stores in eight different states in the works, and although it doesn’t say when these stores will open, it does seem like they are ramping up the pace of production, if you will. When Amazon acquired Whole Foods, we (and everyone else) speculated that it would be tinkering with different models to see what would bring the most disruption to the grocery space. With the success of the Whole Foods 365 brand selling on Amazon, and the recent news that Lidl is scaling back their expansion in the U.S., perhaps they’ve decided that their value-priced side project is worth pursing in earnest.